Good afternoon folks! Today, I have the honor of featuring a guest writer, something that I have never done before. Her name is Mario Ramos, a fellow writer that has been following storiesbywilliams and asked to add her thoughts about this contemporary dystopian literature craze. Take it away, Ramos!
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The teenage wastelands of The Hunger Games and Divergent have made their way to the big screen and people can’t seem to get enough of it. However, many others seem to think science fiction isn’t what it used to be. Despite the glut of novels and films catering to young adults today, there is still plenty of well-written dystopian novels (without teenaged love triangles). Although they do not fall into the same particular category of classics such as Brave New World, there are still worthy examples written in the past few years. Check out some of them below:
The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood:
Christian fundamentalists stage a terrorist attack in America, allowing them to suspend the Constitution and install a patriarchal theocracy. This story follows Offred, a concubine for the elite class who undergoes a sexual awakening and joins a resistance movement against the fundamentalists. This critique of repressive religious fundamentalism has taken on added significance since the 9/11 attacks, showing us how a crisis can lead to authoritarianism. Because it speaks to these important issues, the novel remains relevant today. The book was adapted into a film in 1990 starring Natasha Richardson and Robert Duvall.
The Children of Men (1992) by P.D. James:
A global disease has made all men infertile, leaving the human race unable to reproduce. Without any hope for the future, English society collapses and falls under the control of a ruthless dictator. Criminals are dumped into prisons to kill or be killed and the elderly are compulsorily euthanized. This book is an admonition against the cynicism of our times. If we lose hope, we accept all kinds of callousness and oppression and lose sight of the human life’s value. In 2006, a film adaptation starring Julianne Moore and Clive Owen was released.
The Road (2006) by Cormac McCarthy:
A man and his son brave an ashy lifeless landscape populated by cannibals in the hopes of escaping the harsh black winter. Through their actions and words, the man and the boy constantly emphasize love’s power. No matter how bleak things get, the father always looks out for his son and encourages him to maintain hope no matter what. This powerful message resonates with many families, making this novel a contemporary classic. The 2009 film adaptation received critical acclaim with Viggo Mortensen’s excellent portrayal of The Man.
The Windup Girl (2009) by Paulo Bacigalupi:
In 23rd century Thailand, a genetically engineered humanoid organism, an economic hitman and representative of a biotech mega-corporation, a crooked Chinese refugee, and a leader of an armed environmental enforcement agency cross paths in The Windup Girl. This novel tells a tale of intrigue that critiques environmental exploitation, reckless genetic engineering, the international sex trade, unfettered capitalism, and globalization. The Windup Girl combines a compelling story with dense thematic material, making it a quality science fiction read on par with the classics.
Ready Player One (2011) by Ernest Cline:
In 2044, people spend most of their free time in Oasis — a globally networked virtual reality that transports users to any world they can imagine — as a way of escaping a scrappy existence on an impoverished and depleted planet. The story follows Wade Watts, a high school student that embarks on a digital Easter egg hunt designed by the deceased creator of Oasis in order to inherit his vast estate. Ready Player One shows a world in which people alienate themselves through video games, instead of trying to solve the world’s problems.
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Despite recent films focusing on romance and teenaged angst, there are still many novels that generate conversation over our concerns about the world today. This subgenre of science fiction showcases our anxieties about the future and has raised questions surrounding the concepts of totalitarian governments, environmental catastrophes, and technological overreach. Many have become aware of these concerns and have been trying to positively change the way we impact our Earth. From companies making direct energy more accessible to NASA using advanced technology to help the environment, these dystopian fictions are helping save the world — one novel at a time.
6 thoughts on “Featured Guest Post: “Contemporary Dystopian Novels Worth the Read” by Maria Ramos”
Oh I love The Windup Girl! It’s very well written and really heart-wrenching and compelling. One of my favorite books from my Science Fiction class. And Ready Player One is going to be a movie, from what I hear. I’m debating whether or not I should read the book and/or see the movie.
Its worth reading. Just finished it, and its an absolute must for anyone who thinks 80s retro is fun and/or cool 🙂
If they made a movie out of it and they didn’t cast white actors into the roles of the Asian characters, it would probably be awesome.
Looks like I have some reading to do!
I never finished The handmaid’s tale. I own Ready player One, but haven’t gotten to it yet.
Loved The Road and Children of Men. The movies weren’t bad either.
I think 1984 was my favorite for a long time.
I’m extremely picky about the YA I read because it so often slips into lots of romantic frippery which makes me more angstyness than the characters themselves. Ha!
I tried Divergent and I could only get halfway through before throwing my hands up but I read The Hunger Games before it was popular and loved it then.
So, I’ve got some of these books in my Audible account. Let me go load one of the unread books up so I can listen as I give my money away at the grocery store. 😲
Congrats Matt, you’ve been issued the Love/Hate Challenge. Get the details here:
Hi greatt reading your blog